Your last family get together was discouraging. Not because of any family drama (though there’s always a bit of that). No, the source of the difficulty was simple: it was noisy, and you couldn’t hear anything. So you weren’t able to have very much enjoyable conversation with any members of your family. It was irritating. You feel like the room’s acoustics played a big part. But you can’t completely dismiss the possibility that maybe your hearing is starting to go bad.
It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose hearing loss (that’s why, generally, it’s not recommended). But there are a few early warning signs you should keep on your radar. If some of these warning signs surface, it’s most likely time to have your hearing checked.
Hearing Loss Has Some Early Warning Signs
Several of the symptoms of hearing loss are subtle. But you could be going through some degree of hearing loss if you find yourself noticing some of these signs.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss:
Someone observes that the volume on your media devices is getting louder and louder. Maybe the volume on your phone keeps getting louder and louder. Or maybe your TV speakers are maxed out. Typically, it’s a friend, neighbor, or a family member that makes you recognize the escalating volumes.
When you’re in a loud crowded place, conversations often get lost. This is exactly what occurred during the “family dinner” illustration above, and it’s often an early sign of hearing problems.
You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been whistling for a while and you didn’t hear it. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never detect it. Early hearing loss is typically most apparent in distinct (and frequently high-pitched) frequencies of sound.
Some words seem harder to hear than others. This warning sign often appears because consonants are beginning to sound similar, or, at least, becoming difficult to differentiate. The th- and sh- sounds are very commonly muffled. At times, it’s the s- and f-sounds or p- and t-sounds that become conflated.
Certain sounds seem so loud that they’re intolerable. This early warning sign is less common, but hyperacusis is common enough that you might find yourself encountering its symptoms. It can be an early sign of hearing loss if certain sounds seem really loud particularly if it lasts for an extended period of time.
You frequently need people to repeat what they said. If you find yourself continually asking people to speak up, repeat themselves, or slow down when they speak, this is especially true. You might not even recognize you’re making such regular requests, but it can certainly be an early sign of diminishing hearing.
It’s suddenly very hard to comprehend phone calls: People do a lot of texting these days, so you might not take as many phone calls as you used to. But if you have the volume cranked all the way up on your phone and you’re still having difficulty hearing calls, it’s probably an early warning of hearing loss.
You hear some ringing in your ears: Ringing in your ears is known as tinnitus (and, technically, tinnitus can be other sounds too: screeching, buzzing, humming, thumping, and so on). Tinnitus is often an early warning sign of hearing loss, but not always so if your ears are ringing, a hearing exam is most likely in order.
Next Up: Get a Examination
You still can’t be certain whether you’re dealing with hearing loss even if you are experiencing some of these early warning signs. You will need to get a hearing examination to know for sure.
Generally speaking, any single one of these early warning signs could be evidence that you’re developing some kind of hearing loss. What level of hearing impairment you might be dealing with can only be determined with a hearing evaluation. Then it will become more obvious what has to be done about it.
This means your next family get together can be much more enjoyable.